I hitched up Tater and Spud and went to Ruth's hotel, The White Lion for lunch. I received word from her yesterday but wasn't sure I wanted to go. I was scared to leave the house in case Avery returned. I thought she was expecting me and it would help me pass the time till he got back. So I hauled in some water and heated it up for a nice hot bath. I wanted to make a good impression because she is a friend of Avery's. I dressed carefully in my pale yellow dress and put some fresh daisies in my hair. I gathered together a basket of fresh blackberries that I picked this morning to take as a gift. Fastened Peanut up in his dog house outside and left.
The drive to town is enjoyable. I passed a couple of houses along the way but did not see anyone out and about. I was glad that I did not have to stop to talk to anyone this morning. I am still worried about Avery and do not want to have to answer questions. Our closest neighbor is Chip and Dora Swingle. They raise cattle and usually aren't around when we drive by. Some of their children are though and I don't mind talking to them. They are closer to my age than their parents are anyway. Especially their oldest daughter, Fran. I think she is only a year younger than me, like my sister Esther.
When I got to town and pulled up in front of The White Lion Hotel, I marveled at the thought of owning a hotel. And running it! How would a woman ever learn to do that? I could not imagine it. A man came up to me and said, "Mrs. Longworth?" I nodded and he continued, "I am Patrick McCleary at your service. Mrs. Adamson sent me out here to keep an eye out for you and your rig. I'll take care of your horses, you go right in. Mrs. Adamson is waiting for you," he motioned me toward the front door.
I opened the door and Ruth hurried toward me, "Rachel, so glad you could make it." She was dressed in a lavender cotton dress with little yellow flowers on it. Her blonde hair was piled high on her head with a brocade head band on top. She smiled at me and took my hand, "I heard Avery has been away and thought you might need some company."
"Yes, he has been away for over a month now. I am worried about him," I answered. Glad to be able to talk to someone who I could be honest with. I was worried that he wasn't back yet and I had no word from him. "Here, I brought you fresh blackberries that I picked for you this morning," I said as I handed them to her.
"Thank you, they look delicious. You didn't have to go to so much trouble for me. But fresh berries are a treat for me. Living in town doesn't give me much chance to get to pick berries anymore."
She steered me toward the dining room which was just beyond the counter in the main room. I had never been in a hotel before and I looked around in wonder. "Don't worry until you have a good reason to worry is what I always say. Besides Avery does this all the time you know. Those wagons all loaded up and travel slowly.But the trip back should be faster."
"I know all that. Doesn't make it any easier. I have been keeping busy though." I smiled at her. I looked around at the dining room, "You run all this by yourself?"
Ruth laughed, "Oh no. I've got help. I have a cook, a maid and a couple of men to help with repairs. They all get free room and board. And we all are like family. My husband started this business and I learned to run it with him. Then when he was sick, I took over and he advised me. He wanted me to be able to keep it going after he was gone, which I did. Now it's making even more money than ever before."
"I'm sorry about your husband."
"Thank you Rachel. It's been a couple of years now. Time is the great healer. I have a good lunch planned for you. Sit here," and she pulled out a chair for me and went around to the other side and sat down.
Later at home, I reflected on how confident and sure Ruth seemed to be. I wanted to be that way. Not crying and whining because my husband was out doing his job. I wanted to be a strong woman who Avery could count on. As I took my Bible to my chair, I thought about what I could do tomorrow to start being that strong woman. I glanced around the room and noted some things I wanted to change. I think I will get to work on that. Then start working on my garden and getting some food put up for the winter. When Avery comes home he is going to find a different woman here.......not a little girl.
Copyright © 2010 Kathleen G. Lupole